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CHAPTER SIXTEEN
                        
SUMMARY, DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS.

In the introduction to this thesis, two questions were identified as foci for this study. The first sought elucidation as to the nature and impact of tourism on the Downland and then asked whether tourism could be orchestrated to enhance, rather than degrade, the social, economic and environmental welfare of the region. The second question then went on to ascertain whether AONB or National Park was the appropriate status for the Downland, an issue relevant to the long term role of the Conservation Board and tourism development.

To execute this research programme, a number of themes have been developed within this thesis which have culminated in a series of findings and proposals which, in turn, enable the principal questions to be answered with some authority. Before the various themes could be developed however, it was necessary to carry out a detailed review of the characteristics of the Downland landscape and how they function. This data collection, which consumes the first three chapters, was explored within the context of the delineation rationale. The absence of any existing comprehensive landscape inventory for the Downland made this exercise particularly necessary. The outcome was the determination that the Downland can be identified as a distinct topographical region and that there is a complex web of interactive agencies that impinge on the Downland landscape in varying ways. These are summarised in Table 3:8. Integral within this review was an investigation into the effectiveness of landscape protection measures, particularly National Park status, AONBs and ESAs. This provides the foundation for further debate on the appropriate long term designation of the Downland.

Similarly it was also necessary to carry out a detailed inventory of tourism pertinent to the Downland. To effect this a working definition of the Downland tourist had to be determined before the nature and infrastructure pertinent to the tourist could be explored. The debate arrived at a very broad definition of the Downland tourist which included the casual local visitor. This has considerable implications thereafter by encompassing general recreationalists in all the issues addressed. This broad definition also set the framework for ascertaining relevant commercial tourism resources and for evaluating earlier research relevant to Downland tourism in Chapters 4 and 5. A conclusion reached at this early stage was that there was inadequate data available to bring about a detailed understanding of Downland tourism. A major Downland Visitor Survey was therefore initiated in conjunction with a pilot attitudinal study. From the interpretation of the data collected, valuable insights were secured into the nature and behaviour of the typical Downland visitor against which user group comparisons could later be made. The data has also been extensively used by the SDCB which funded the Visitor Survey.[1] Chapter 6, in effect, completes the inventory of Downland tourism culminating in a detailed appraisal of visitor numbers in the light of the MAFF/ESA data and the Visitor Survey and concludes that there are 32.5 million visits to the Downland in a year, a figure only previously guessed at.

In Chapter 7 the landscape and tourism elements are amalgamated. This chapter therefore acts as a point of unification by summarising the "product" and then, using sector analysis techniques applied to the Visitor Survey data, is able to establish "consumer groups" for the Downland. By incorporating the Downland visitor numbers derived from the MAFF/ESA research, a volume analysis and market share is possible for key user groups as summarised in tables 7:2 and 7:3. This extends considerably the use of the MAFF data beyond its original intent and, when coupled with the economic valuation of user groups considered later, extends the application to its limits. The result is a detailed understanding of Downland consumers which in turn will provide the basis of further research opportunities to consolidate and extend the work of this thesis.

In turn, the detailed understanding of Downland tourism and landscape has enabled comparisons to be made with elsewhere and two case studies are carried out, Dartmoor National Park and The Malvern Hills AONB. In the Dartmoor study a number of issues emerge which include the importance of regional tourism planning beyond the boundaries of the National Park, through the DATI. Other issues include the conserving of the built environment in tandem with land use and the extending of archaeological knowledge. Commons are noted as an important part of the formalising of a "freedom to roam" landscape. Other matters addressed include marketing philosophies, landscape assessment and monitoring, mechanisms for policy formulation, community development and partnerships.

In contrast, the Malvern Hills case study paints a picture of poor coordination of tourism resources and lack of strategies. In spite of numerous initiatives by various agencies, Malvern continues to suffer from what is described as the "Malvern Factor", an all pervading intransigence which ultimately stifles endeavour. Malvern does enjoy tourists in significant numbers however, but this is largely by default, and their management is unsophisticated compared with Dartmoor. The Malvern Hills enjoy a particularly enviable record of landscape conservation and protection. This is attributable to the Malvern Hills Conservators and their enabling legislation. This protection is restricted to only a small part of the AONB and has resulted in any attempts to develop the Hills being thwarted for over 100 years.

The contrast between the two case studies in how they orchestrate tourism introduces a debate on organisational restructuring for tourism and the appropriate marketing philosophies to be adopted. Chapter 10 proposes that the Area Tourism Initiative of Dartmoor could well provide a role model for the orchestration of Downland tourism. This develops the notion of inner and outer zones. The question of what agencies should be represented on a SATI prompts a review of land ownership on the Downland. The proposed SATI provides a policy and management structure for tourism. Major reservations are expressed however about the workings and effectiveness of the planning system generally.

Such concerns relate to countryside planning throughout the UK as well as being pertinent to the Downland. The CPRE published in 1992 its findings on land use change in England 1945-1990.[2]  An important conclusion was that urbanisation was increasing at an alarmingly faster rate than population growth.[3] This growth has resulted from inadequate policies based on poor information. The planning system is seen as deficient, having two problems that need to be addressed, 1) how to cope with ever increasing demand for land for urban type use and 2) how to equip a planning system to enable it to enforce environmental sustainability and a limits to growth policy.[4]

The CPRE is voicing concern about planning on a local basis also. The Binstead Valley, on the Downs, is well recognised as an outstanding, unspoilt area. Local opposition, almost unanimous with elected Local Authority representatives, to a golf development was thwarted on appeal to the Environment Department. Following the Inspector's decision concerning developments in the Binstead Valley, the local secretary of Arun Branch of the CPRE observed "The decision has further damaged public confidence in local government's power and ability to safeguard the interests of rural communities" [5] Paul Tiplady of the SDCB notes that the Sussex Countryside is increasingly coming under threat by developers "who are shrewder and better at getting around planning controls"[6] Such lack of confidence is expressed extensively, in the media and elsewhere, by both participants and observers of the planning process, whether it be directed to planning of road development or erection of radio masts. Planning appears to be failing in that, by seeking a satisfactory route through the conflicting pressures, it serves no master well.

Armed with an arguably inadequate planning process, it is with alarm that observers learn from such organisations as the CPRE that commercial, formalised leisure and tourism developments in England's countryside are likely to consume thousands of acres of undeveloped land over the coming decade, whether it be for golf courses or theme parks. Public agencies and local planning authorities are failing to provide a forum for the resolution of such issues in the rural environment.[7] The SATI proposed in Chapter 10 provides only a component in the solution of this difficult problem. Also proposed in this chapter is the "neutral" marketing stance for the core area, with a proactive approach to tourism being adopted in the peripheral areas.

The nature of tourism on the Downland means that it is inextricably linked to landscape conservation and the natural environment. This tripartite balance is pursued in Chapter 11 and a clearer determination of landscape utilisation is suggested through the introduction of a dynamic zoning policy. As a result it can be seen that developments such as the Beachy Head hotel are inappropriate. The same chapter then identifies a series of problems emanating from the earlier work and suggests ways in which they can be managed.

Chapter 12 also addresses problems identified in the earlier work but in the social context. Population data provides the backcloth for debate on such issues as housing and social welfare. New Age Travellers are used as an example to explore attitudinal problems manifest in the local community about tourism. Although an extreme case, the question of establishing reasonable codes of behaviour leads to a discussion on where the responsibility lies for dealing with crime. An important conclusion is the need to involve local communities in tourism initiatives, possibly through the SATI.

Social welfare cannot be divorced from economic prosperity and Chapter 13 enables a number of earlier themes to be drawn together. In particular the earlier work on user groups and sector analysis by volume is extended to give analysis by value, summarised in Table 13:3, using the data from the Visitor Survey. As a result, user group volume and value market share can now be brought together for comparison purposes in Table 16:1

 Table 16:1                                    

PERCENTAGE VOLUME AND VALUE
BY PRINCIPAL USER GROUPS
ON THE DOWNLAND

                       
   Group                                             percent                                     percent 
                                                          volume                                       value
                                                            share                                        share
                              
   Short Walkers                                  17.0                                           16.3
   Facility seekers                                16.3                                           17.4
   Picnickers                                         14.7                                           14.2
   Keen walkers                                    14.3                                           12.6
   Gen recreationalists                         12.8                                           12.5
   Wealthy tourist                                     9.1                                           13.3
   Dog walkers                                        6.1                                             3.7
   Quiet recreationalists                         4.9                                             5.0
   Nature appreciators                           4.9                                             5.0

   All                                                     100.00                                      100.00

   (totals within 0.1 due to decimal rounding)

   Source: Tables 7:3 & 13:3

From Table 16:1, it can now be seen, for example, that dog walkers represent a much higher volume percentage than value, which is as expected, but that the group designated as facility seekers make a greater economic contribution than the short walkers although the former command a lower volume share.

Chapter 13 goes on to quantify the economic benefits of  Downland tourism based on 32.5 million visits per annum derived from the earlier development of the MAFF/ESA data and notes the revenue received by the exchequer as a result. The notion that rural communities are deprived is disputed but the revolution that declining agriculture is undergoing establishes a role for tourism as an alternative rural industry. The ever-growing problem of set-aside indicates that the need for new land uses are in tandem with the need for new economic generators. Evaluation of the multiplier effect suggests how the economic benefits can be maximised within the Downland communities but the notion that the less able will directly benefit is challenged, suggesting that alternative state benefit mechanisms are better suited.

The pivotal role of Local Authorities as instigators of tourism-led economic development is debated and the conclusion is drawn that the SATI, proposed earlier, provides a unified vehicle within which Local Authority initiatives could be coordinated to the common good.

Two threats to tourism's healthy development are identified at this point. The intransigence of those without a vested economic interest and the failure to develop within the conservation and environmental considerations of the tripartite balance. Each has the power to jeopardise the economic potential.

In Chapter 14 and 15 a number of the earlier themes are consolidated to focus the thesis on the principal questions that it sets out to resolve. The inadequacies of the present system are paramount at this stage, whether they be the ineffectiveness of planning mechanisms or the limitations of AONB and National Park status. Clarke, Darrall, Grove-White, Macnaghten and Urry argue that new public mechanisms are needed urgently to explore ways of understanding and developing tourism activity in the context of the wider environmental and cultural considerations.[8] Policy innovation is not a well known characteristic of countryside management, in spite of sustained demand from political science literature. This point is argued by Mercer who points out that in an Australian case study on National Parks, no State has adopted a legislative path that others have not followed.[9] This in turn raises the question as to who leads with innovation? Mercer argues that in 1964, the USA Wilderness Act pioneered the recognition that wilderness was a way of life, a cultural inheritance and a legacy for the future.[10] The Act established a new era of thinking about rural communities and their close links with the natural environment. Australia has been described as eight governments in search of a wilderness policy and it was Victoria's National Parks (Wilderness) Act 1992 that ultimately took that state into a leadership role.[11] Such consideration has application within the UK in that rural communities should be seen as an integral part of the rural environment. Their dialect, culture, heritage and cuisine, are inextricably linked to their surroundings.[12] They are not actors on a stage or non participating observers of a rural tableau. It also raises the question, who leads and who follows in innovative thinking?

The Dartmoor case study, used in this thesis, has shown that in many respects Dartmoor's management philosophies have enabled sustainable tourism to develop. The Malvern Hills however have recently published, through the Countryside Commission, a management plan for the AONB. In Chapter 9 of this thesis the plan is criticised as: "disappointingly predictable in its nature, reflecting issues and proposals echoed in numerous countryside publications and now part of the conservation culture of the countryside.... the plan is inherently weak due to lack of implementation resources. It also lacks pioneering vision, no doubt as a result of wishing to please all agencies involved in its inception." [13] The SDCB are in the final stages of the preparation of their management plan, co-terminus with this thesis. This important document will set the scene for whatever achievements the Board will secure during its trial period. Any future role for the Board and Countryside Commission funding for the Downs, at present 35 percent of all AONB funding[14], will be judged on the achievements of the Board during its trial period. The draft document of December 1994[15] solicited a disappointing result from the Board however, particularly that it lacked strategic thinking and a dynamic action plan.[16] Is the SDCB management plan destined to ultimately solicit the same criticism as the Malvern Hills plan?

There are several reasons why this may be so. The culture of management planning prevails throughout the countryside industry, orchestrated by the Countryside Commission, who are after all one of the principal paymasters. Like the Australian example, where will the lead come from which breaks the mould? There are other aspects of the methodology of countryside management that have also constrained any wish by the Board's Officer to adopt a new and dynamic approach. Faced with organising a countryside management service in the early years of the Boards existence, the Officer deployed the financial resources available to give a comprehensive, high quality coverage of those responsibilities that the Board assumed control of, rather than set the additional funding available for the Downland aside for special initiatives. Now the Officer is under pressure to generate new initiatives that will enable the Board to claim achievements hitherto unobtainable. This coincides with an era of budget trimming reflecting Government pressure on the Countryside Commission.[17] Given the size of the existing establishment and work programme commitment, the Officer perhaps finds himself in an impossible situation. If so where should we look for new leadership in policy innovation?

The challenge to find new approaches is one that has been addressed by this thesis but this has been done in the context of a wish to find evolutionary rather than revolutionary solutions. This avoids the trap of meeting every problem by reorganising to create the illusion of progress but in fact producing confusion, inefficiency and demoralisation.[18] In exploring the principal questions detailed earlier in this chapter, this thesis has proposed such innovations as the Area Tourism Initiative as part of the organisational restructuring of Chapter 10. This uses Dartmoor as the role model where such an agency is operating effectively. The further development of zoning is a theme in the findings of this thesis and this originates particularly from the published proposals of such organisations as the Federation of Nature and National Parks of Europe.[19] Such proposals evolve from the experience elsewhere rather than revolutionise practices in an indeterminate manner.

Chapter 14 looks at how future reorganisation of Local Government, National Parks and AONBs may effect the Downland but rejects these as inadequate for the Downland's specific requirements in the future. Instead, the ideas of an inalienable land holding are seen as more appropriate. This theme is developed alongside the idea of extensive, secured public land ownership with a managing body, enabled in a similar manner to the Malvern Hills Conservators. A future role for the SDCB starts to emerge, possibly as a Conservators Board. The absence of commons necessitates the acquisition of such a land holding at an opportune time when agricultural use is declining. This could lead to the development of a new style of common on the Downland, under public ownership but with sympathetic agricultural usage based on the new commercial agricultural tenancy in tandem with free public access.[20] This chapter concludes with the view that a hybrid AONB status, with enhanced planning powers, is best suited to the Downland in future, given the strength of the associated proposals.

How such proposals can be effected is considered in the penultimate chapter. The public land holding cost is justified in economic terms with a new approach to funding mechanisms. It is this land holding that will provide the barrier to further urban encroachment, replacing the ailing planning process with parliamentary authority. It will also enable considerable landscape restoration to be carried out, counteracting the legacy of agri-industrial exploitation. Further impetus to the cost equation is provided by consolidated countryside funding from the SATI as well as savings from agricultural set-aside. As the benefits of the SATI become apparent, a precept on the Council Tax may well be arguable, in a similar manner to the Malvern Hills Conservators, and justified through the value of the Downland as a well used, local, low priced amenity. This would provide additional resources for the land holding programme. The inalienable land holding in turn becomes an integral part of the zoning policies and, when linked by a network of graduated routeways for access, enables the concept of an integrated landscape to be developed.

There is a danger in using economic return as a means of justifying the redirection of investment. The power of the economic case is diverted to conservation and restoration as a counterbalance to the economic arguments of alternative commercial development. The Downland case differs considerably from commercial tourism enterprise in that an economic return is not the final goal. The day must never come when the role of the SDCB is directed to maximising economic return at the expense of conservation. Such a view would distort the overriding objective of establishing a Downland for particular types of recreational tourism as identified in Chapter 7. Economic advantage must be subservient to such an objective and not the objective determinator. It is not a case of applying harsh economics at the expense of deeper values. Recreation considerations outweighing conservation ideals is recognised as a significant problem in American National Parks. Gateway towns have been particularly susceptible to commercialisation. Having secured the land for all time, America is now experiencing a second generation of threats directly attributable to the success of the first generation activity. The effect is a potential erosion of the essential qualities that make the conserved landscape a special place.[21] Humankind after all is a spiritual being and the Downland epitomises that spirituality for many. It is a case of harnessing the accepted methodology of economic debate to conservation ends.

Chapter 15 views the Downland as a complex series of overlays of which an inalienable land holding is a key component. The hierarchical route planning and the rejuvenation of traditional Downland all go towards establishing the Downland as a special place. Transport is debated in this chapter and it is apparent that current knowledge on demand and supply issues is weak. This is one of a number of further research projects emerging from this thesis. Others include landscape assessment and monitoring, possibly using GIS, and extended work on visitor analysis both using existing and new data.

The combination of proposals provide a new and unique approach to Downland policy and management and as such reflect the challenge laid down by Clarke et al to find new public mechanisms to explore ways of understanding and developing tourism activity in the context of the wider environmental and cultural considerations. In particular a means is sought of securing the Downland landscape for future generations in accordance with the principals of sustainability. The combination of the adoption of techniques proven elsewhere and the development of new approaches provides an evolutionary process rather than revolutionary and this leads to the view that tourism can be orchestrated to enhance rather than degrade the social, economic and environmental welfare of the region. To achieve this the principal of recreation through conservation is cardinal.

The first of the two principal questions is therefore answered but not without a proviso. The question seeks the answer to whether tourism can be orchestrated; but as to whether tourism will be orchestrated is another matter and for this there is a requirement for political will. The catalyst for this may be the recognition that a leadership role is required, as identified previously by Mercer. Chapter 14, in answering the second of the principal questions - whether AONB or National Park - proposes a unique status for the Sussex Downs and the Conservation Board, a hybrid, part National Park and part AONB. This in itself is a unique positioning as is the current status of the SDCB. Such individuality opens the door to the formulation of original approaches and policies to countryside management, tailored to meet the specific needs of individual localities rather than "off the shelf" standardised solutions. The political will has already been demonstrated by the formation of the Conservation Board, all that remains is to harness that will further for specific objectives. The leadership role in countryside management is there for the SDCB to assume.

Action however comes from people, not reports or proposals. "I wish that there were more studies of people rather than ideas divorced from people, since so much to do with the spread of or opposition to ideas seems to result not from their intrinsic worth but from the personalities involved" [22] What personalities will emerge as the pioneers of new thinking for countryside conservation and recreation on the Sussex Downland?

Given that the Downland can, arguably, be orchestrated to enhance social, economic and environmental objectives through tourism, in the closing remarks of this thesis it is worth considering how the Downland of the future might integrate into society and its value systems.

At the practical level, the emergence of the Downland as a special and distinctive place provides a buffer to the all-pervading culture of the late 20th century. This erosion of distinctiveness comes about through the media, increased personal mobility and a wide variety of processes ongoing within society. "Brown sign homogenisation" is a term already identified as describing the invasion of tourism culture into some of our most valued countryside.[23] Local distinctiveness can be enhanced in the name of recreational tourism and this potentially lethal weapon becomes a tool to enhance and not destroy the landscape.

We may well ask why we need to develop the Downland in this way? Soane identifies a loss of environmental continuity in our lives coupled with a loss of the sense of place.[24] This in turn leads to an increasing desire to escape the realities of the industrial urban world that we create to empower our market driven economy. Such may partly explain the sense of discovery identified by many as important in the Downland experience,[25] the wish to locate a world where a more altruistic value system prevails with people in harmony with nature.

The two extremes of view in the study of interaction of persons with their environment are debated by Lovelock in his study of Gaia in the late 1970s. Extensive subsequent reprints confirm the continued popularity of the approach contained therein. Rene Dubos expressed the view that humanity is in a position of stewardship of the biosphere.[26] The message is essentially one of hope and optimism. Humankind becomes an essential part of the stabilising mechanism of Gaia, recruited to assist and enhance the development of life on the planet by adjusting and altering modes of behaviour to give the optimum benefit to the enhancement of all. The alternative view, as expressed by Hardin is one of great tragedy, a spiral of destruction from which there is no escape. The only way out would be to renounce technology, a position that would be totally unacceptable.

Is humankind the destroyer or are we the responsible stewards? The contemporary English scene gives cause for concern. In the rural areas agricultural productivity has grown to such an extent that we are now extensifying output. Agri-industrialists have acted like butchers in adapting the land to produce greater profits, treating all life forms in their way as either pests, weeds or vermin, an approach which has brought many benefits to the English nation it must be stated. Population has grown to give a present density which far exceeds any historic comparisons. The industrial revolution has left England as one of the "advanced" first world countries with large urbanised areas devoid of countryside from which bursts the populace seeking leisure, recreation and spiritual solace. No part of Britain has escaped the impacts of industry. In spite of this England is still filled with gardens, parks, woodlands, wastelands, trees and hedgerows to which the majority can gain access with relative ease. Are the negative impacts merely passing phases in the renaissance of an era of greater harmony with the environment? [27]  Responsible stewardship is perhaps a process of problem identification and then adjustment - Lovelock's cybernetic system. As the process proceeds there will inevitably be minor swings between the acceptable limits. If this hypothesis is acceptable then this thesis is part of that process, identifying, anticipating and adjusting behaviour to enhance the value of the Sussex Downs.

Footnotes:

[1] Osborne B E. 1994, Volume and Value Analysis of Recreational Tourism on the Downland, unpublished paper prepared for SDCB Management Plan, Nov.

[2] Sinclair G. 1992, The Lost Land, a report for the CPRE.

[3] Sinclair G. 1992, 9.29.

[4] Sinclair G. 1992, 9.33.

[5] Stanley A. 1994, "Golf Decision is a Threat to Countryside", West Sussex Gazette, 28 July, p2.

[6] Tiplady P. 1993, "Under Threat from Developers", report on address to Storrington Parish Council, West Sussex Gazette, 5 Aug.

[7] Clark G. Darrall J. Grove-White R. Macnaghten P. & Urry J. Lancaster University, 1994, Leisure Landscapes - Leisure, Culture and the English Countryside: Challenges and Conflicts, CPRE, May, see Executive Summary.

[8] Clark G. et al, Lancaster University, 1994, Chapter 6.

[9] Mercer D. 1993, Victoria's National Parks (Wilderness) Act 1992: Background and Issues, Australian Geographer, 24 (1) May, p25.

[10] Mercer D. 1993, p26.

[11] Mercer D. 1993, p30.

[12] Lane B. 1994, "Sustainable Rural Tourism Strategies: A Tool for Development and Conservation", Journal of Sustainable Tourism, Vol 2, 1&2, p110.

[13] See Chapter 9, Malvern Hills Case Study, "The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".

[14] LLoyd R. 1995, personal communication, Countryside Commission, 13 June.

[15] Sussex Downs Officer, 1994, Sussex Downs Consultation Paper, draft text, SDCB, Dec.

[16] Discussion at SDCB meeting Mon 23rd Jan 1995, see agenda item 8, minutes still awaited at time of writing.

[17] Discussion at SDCB meeting Mon 23rd Jan 1995, see agenda item 4, minutes still awaited at time of writing.

[18] West Sussex Gazette, 1994, Vaius Petronius, AD65, one of several quotations used by WSCC in support of no change in local government, "Bishop Supports No Change Case",  14 July.

[19] Shipp D. 1993, Loving Them to Death, report of the Federation of Nature and National Parks of Europe.

[20] Tiplady P. 1994, recommendation in personal communication.

[21] Mitchell J C. 1994, "Our National Parks", National Geographic, Vol 186, No 4, Oct.p2-55.
 
[22] Stoddart D R. 1967, quoted in: Gilbert E W. 1972, British Pioneers in Geography, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, p18.

[23] Clark G. et al, Lancaster University, 1994, see 6.6.

[24] Soane J. 1992, "The Origin, Growth and Transformation of Maritime Resorts Since 1840", Built Environment, Vol 18, No1, p12.

[25] See Chapter 6, part 1.

[26] Dubos R, 1976, "Symbiosis Between Earth and Humankind", Science, 193, p459.

[27] Lovelock J E. 1979, Gaia, A New Look at Life on Earth, 1989 ed. Oxford Univ. Press.
 
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